Reflecting on 36 years of work in Macomb Township government, Janet Dunn said the only thing she wanted, whether it be as supervisor or a mother and a wife, was to make the community better.

Reflecting on 36 years of work in Macomb Township government, Janet Dunn said the only thing she wanted, whether it be as supervisor or a mother and a wife, was to make the community better.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Former township supervisor recaps government career

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 11, 2021


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — 2021 marks the first year since 1984 that Janet Dunn is not reporting for work — in some capacity — in Macomb Township.

Now retired, the 79-year-old Dunn wrapped up her eight years as Macomb Township supervisor in November.

Hired in as a receptionist, Dunn’s memories of the township in the mid-1980s included that Hall Road was a two-lane highway.

“I lived on 22 Mile Road, which was gravel, with no water and sewer,” she said. “My kids had no one to play with because there were 11 houses on 22 between Heydenreich and Card, and only one house had kids.”

Dunn, who has lived in Macomb County her entire life and in Macomb Township since the early 1960s, said she remembers voting in a booth in the old township hall, east of Romeo Plank Road.

“You pulled the lever down for whichever candidate you wanted and when you pushed the lever, it registered the votes,” she said. “There was no such thing as precincts then.”  

A Utica High School graduate, Dunn spent 11 years in the assessing department, followed by serving as a trustee from 1995 through 2012.

As Dunn tells it, her husband retired in 1995 and wanted her to also retire. It turns out Dunn was retired for all of three months before she applied to be a trustee, which she was selected for.

In the 2000s, after the Recreation Center and Town Hall facilities opened, Dunn shared a story, which she calls a good example of the township’s growth. It involves her attending a Michigan Townships Association, or MTA, conference.

“Everyone would ask where you were from and you’d hold up your hand and show them where you lived,” she said. “We told them Macomb Township and everyone knew it. It went from being a sleepy, little community to this growing metropolis.”

As a trustee, Dunn said the most ambitious plan approved by the board was for the Town Center, located south of 25 Mile and east of Romeo Plank roads.

“We also built two fire stations and opened Macomb Corners Park,” she said.

In gauging the township’s population when she began working with the township, Dunn said there were around 12,000 registered voters. In 2020, that number was just under 70,000.

“Once people found out water and sewer was available, everything kind of exploded,” she said. “We constantly had developers in the office. We no longer had to go to them. They came to us.”

Dunn took office as supervisor in the fall of 2012, making her the first woman to hold that position in the township.

“I was received very well by the people who had been there a long time,” she said. “One gentleman was working for water and sewer and was also a part-time firefighter. He told me he knew the township was in good shape now that I had taken over because I had the same ideals and goals as what he called the ‘old-timers.’”

She cites adding a public park, preserving township history, and bringing the North Branch of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library to the Town Center, as what she is most proud of from her time as supervisor.

“The only thing I wanted as a supervisor, as a receptionist, as a mother and a wife was to make this community better,” Dunn said.

Growing up on a farm, without access to a library, she said the most fulfilling part of her work was bringing the library to where it will be located when it opens later this year.

At the former Board of Trustees final meeting in November, Trustee Charlie Oliver said he and Dunn go back a long way.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Also at the meeting, Clerk Kristi Pozzi wished Dunn the best in her retirement, good health and some good times.

Dunn and her late husband Jay have four children, eight grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.